Alphabet orders 'Stars' for another year

ABC is planning a ballroom blitz next year, ordering up another season of summer smash “Dancing With the Stars.”

Alphabet’s formal pickup of the BBC Worldwide skein, confirmed Tuesday, had been expected for weeks. ABC said it doesn’t expect to bring “Dancing” back to the air  until midseason; early winter seems to be the most likely option.

ABC Entertainment prexy Steve McPherson said “Dancing” has “played a pivotal role” in ABC’s summer strategy.

“The show is tremendous fun, perfect for our brand and a wonderful boost for our schedule,” he said. “Having ‘Dancing’ and ‘Brat Camp’ both emerge this summer as assets for the future gives us great upside.”

Andrea Wong, ABC’s exec veep of alternative programming, admitted that the original decision to put “Dancing” on the air was something of a risk. “It was an odd left turn, so it’s especially gratifying to see it embraced by so many people,” she said.

“Dancing With the Stars” easily ranks as the summer’s biggest hit to date, averaging a 5.1/15 in demos and 16.8 million viewers over its six-week run. Those numbers also make the show the summer’s most-watched skein on any net since “Survivor” bowed in 2000.

Skein’s success won’t necessarily impact the casting process for cycle two.

“You get more people who want to do the show, but that doesn’t make it any easier to book,” said Paul Telegdy, VP of programming and co-productions for the BBC.

Telegdysaid producers won’t be looking to just lure bigger names to the show. Instead, what they’re interested in “is the story they’re going to bring to the show.”

No major changes are planned for season two, though Telegdy said he’s sure ABC will up the episode count from season one’s six segs.

BBC Entertainment Group topper Wayne Garvie said the company was satisfied to see American viewers embrace “Dancing” as passionately as Blighty auds did the U.K. version of the skein (dubbed “Strictly Come Dancing”).

“For the second season, we guarantee even more tears, tantrums and tangos,” he said.

“Strictly Come Dancing” inspired a disco-flavored spinoff in the U.K. While it seems likely the BBC will eventually try to set up that format Stateside, there’s been no movement on that front as of yet.

As for the precise scheduling of the “Stars” sequel, net can easily afford to hold off on returning the show given the number of big guns returning to ABC this fall: “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Boston Legal” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

Having the skein on hand for, say, a January premiere could also give the net a nice weapon to help launch its new Monday lineup. ABC could also use the show on Wednesday nights, allowing “Lost” to take a midseason breather (thus minimizing in-season repeats).

A March premiere might also make sense to avoid bumping up against NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics.

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